740.5/2–2251: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Spofford) to the Secretary of State 1

secret
niact

Depto 546. Knight from Spofford.

1. Reference appointment Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic heated discussion in House this afternoon. Churchill asked for statement [Page 476]about appointment Supreme Sea Commander.2 Attlee replied NADC had agreed appointment should be made and should be American. An American had already been nominated and announcement his appointment expected shortly.

Churchill attacked bitterly. Was there no capable British officer? Does not Britain lie key to all communications? Are not sea approaches in event submarine attack vital our life? Why when British experience longer and wider than any and when just agreed so much pleasure appointment Eisenhower, we should have resigned claims to command Atlantic?

Attlee replied weakly appointment made jointly Atlantic powers, no country could dictate.

Churchill returned charge suggesting this argued great decline British influence and esteem. Inquired what effort Prime Minister made press British claim. Did Prime Minister simply accept fact British are to be brushed aside.

Debate went on this fashion 25 minutes during which Attlee several times drowned out. Churchill asked if matter finally settled or whether Prime Minister would in view widespread feeling appeal to US consider matter in all friendship and loyal feeling comradeship. Said US would be ready treat loyal allies fairly and generously.

Attlee said first would certainly look into matter and later reiterated, “I have said I will reconsider it”.

2. Since above debate Hoyer-Millar has called say uncertain what will result from debate but suggested holding up final action in Deputies over weekend. Expect further word from British. Please instruct.

Spofford
  1. Repeated information priority to Paris as 1555 for MacArthur.
  2. Although no official statement had been issued by Eisenhower’s headquarters, it was announced in Copenhagen on February 19 that the Danish Government had approved the appointment of Admiral Fechteler as SACLANT. The text of the Danish announcement is in Folliot, Documents on International Affairs, 1951, p. 62.